Photo: Marcus Gutierrez Staff Photo
High football is back… well for some teams.
Friday Night Lights kicked off three weeks ago with the lower classification playing their first games early this month. Now, it’s time for the Class 5A and 6A programs in the state to start their season next weekend.
Football aficionados will keep a close eye on the Humble area because arguably the toughest district in the state resides right on the northeast side of the Greater Houston area. District 21-6A consists of back-to-back state champion North Shore in addition to Atascocita, Summer Creek, Humble, Kingwood, Beaumont West Brook, and C.E. King.
It’s sure to be competitive football in the district, but there will be new requirements and health standards that have to be maintained. Football facilities across Texas, including Turner Stadium in Humble, are limited to 50% occupancy when high school games are played, due to UIL rules.
Humble ISD athletic director Troy Kite said his staff has been working hard to make sure that Turner Stadium is safe on the field and in the stands.
“When you enter the facility, you are required by the UIL rules to wear a mask,” Kite said. “You’re supposed to wear your mask at all times unless you are eating and drinking. We will have ushers in the stands reminding people to wear their mask and social distance. This is something that is new to everyone. We’re going to kill them with kindness. We’re here trying to get kids back on the field. We certainly don’t want it to be a confrontation.”
There will be a total of 1,000 tickets sold on the home side at Turner Stadium plus the band and there will be either 1,000 or 800 tickets available on the visiting side depending on if a band will come to the stadium.
Not everyone will be able to attend a game this season.
As the U.S. deals with protests and civil unrest over racial injustice and police brutality in the midst of a pandemic, athletes are using their voice as well.
Professional leagues and players have used their platform by taking a knee during the national anthem or speaking out about racism on their platforms.
Humble ISD will not penalize any student-athlete that decides to express their opinion on social issues, Kite said. At summer graduations some Humble ISD students took a knee during the national anthem.
“Obviously we don’t want a disruption to the event, but we also want kids to express what they believe in their hearts,” he said. “I think that is what athletics are all about. If I have two kids that want to do X and two kids that want to do Y, I’m all for it because this is about the individual belief there. Everyone has an opinion on what’s going on right now.”
Football players, coaches, band members, and drill teams will each get two tickets for a visitor to come to the game. Once those are sold, tickets will go to the schools, where a student can buy one ticket to a game. If there any tickets left after students choose them, then tickets will be sold to the general public online. If anymore passes are available they will be sold at the gate on game day.
This has made several people upset about multiple family members not coming to games, but Kite hopes that maybe down the line there will be more opportunities to let more people in the stands, depending on the COVID-19 situation and UIL rules.
Humble ISD players will be spread out from the 10-yard line to the other 10-yard line and will wear gaiters around their neck. Once they come to the sidelines, they will have to put their mask on.
“We want to make sure that our coaches and kids are here,” Kite said. “I have been to some scrimmages, and I have been really impressed. I mean there might have been a couple times where a kid forgot to put his mask on, but a coach reminded him. It’s all about safety right now.”
Humble ISD has had experience during its graduation ceremonies at Turner Stadium this summer. A limited amount of people were allowed in the stadium and Kite felt the district did a great job.
“I’m asking for patience,” Kite said. “We know we can’t get everyone in right now and hoping that over the next 30 days we might be able to get more people in. It’s easier said than done, that’s for sure.”